A cache is traditionally defined as a location that is used to safely hide or store things.  Your computer uses the cache to temporarily store files that it may use again in the very near future.  

Since browsing the internet requires downloading multiple files from the internet to your computer, users often wait long periods while complete web pages slowly show up on their computer screen.  To speed up browsing time, the files that are downloaded are temporarily stored in the cache (referred to as Temporary Internet Files in Internet Explorer).  Therefore, when a user revisits that web page, the browser will first look in the cache for the information before it goes to the internet.  Files that are found in the cache appear on the user's screen immediately.

Depending on  your internet browser and the version you are working with, you may be able to change how much of your hard drive disk space is dedicated to your cache.  You may also be able to change how often your computer looks to the cache before it looks to the internet.  For example, the computer will look to the cache:

Every Visit to the Page
Looks at the web page on the internet every time you go to it.  If the page has updated since you visited it last, it will retreive the new information.  Since you are constantly referring to the internet, this option may increase your wait time while surfing.  However, if you want to always retrieve the newest information on a web page without hitting the Refresh Button, this option is what you want.
Every Time you Start your Browser
Each time you start a surfing session the caching process restarts itself.  Therefore, the first time you see a web page it will be cached and any time you return to a web page, the browser will compare the information on the internet to that stored in your cache.  If new information is available, the browser will retrieve it.  However, during your surfing session from that point on, the browser will always retrieve the information from your cache and will not look for updated information on the internet.  Therefore, to ensure you have the most recent information on web pages that are being updated frequently, it will be necessary for you to use the Refresh Button.
This setting will first refer to all cache files and will not compare the saved file to the version currently on the web.  However, if you are working offline, this option will automatically connect you to the internet if the page is not cached.
This setting forces your browser to refer to the cached file unless none is available.  There is no time limit to this option.  Therefore, to ensure you have the most recent information on web pages that are being updated frequently, it will be necessary for you to use the Refresh Button.

Lastly, since only a given amount of hard drive space is dedicated to your cache, this space can fill up very quickly.  If you experience unexplainable slower downloads, you may want to clear the files that are in the cache area.  Do not change the amount of disk space that is dedicated to your cache without first notifying your technology coordinator.  If you dedicate too much space you may limit the functionality of the other applications on your computer.

When browsing the internet, you will notice that periodically you will wait quite a long time for a web page to appear on your browser in the completed format.  Often the text of the page appears first and slowly the images appear thereafter.  Your computer, during your wait time, is downloading multiple files from the web to your computer.  The web page itself is a file (HTML language) and each and every image on the web page is its own file.  Unlike a word processing document, the images don't ever become part of the document.  They are instead temporarily placed in a specified position on the web page.  For example, to view this web page, your computer must download 19 files!  It may have loaded more quickly than expected, because many of the images are the same from web pages that you previously viewed.  So, the computer is going to the cache for as many of the files as possible.  For the files it can't find, it looks on the internet.  

  • Clear your cache. 
  • Access the area in your browser which allows the user to change how often your computer looks to the cache for information
Information about changing Cache (Temporary Internet Files) user preferences can be located by locating the word "cache" in the Help Menu. 

For information about how to use help in your specific browser use the links below........